That's my conclusion on a lifetime's worth of decision-making so far. I was taught growing up to make my own decisions. And so I made them. And then I was told exactly why they were the wrong decisions, and what the right one would have been. And then — I was made to stick to my decision. And I discovered that, to tell the truth, I was okay with the decisions I had to stick to.
But all that decision-making home schooling made me really hate deciding anything at all.
And so, I stopped.
Making decisions entails some kind of internal process of analysis. Either that, or some (still internal) gut reaction, or heartstring pulling — or something. I don't really have a clue. I find that my guts ache — and I still end up having to follow through on something I didn't exactly decide to do. So that doesn't help too much. Internal cues mean you actually have to recognize what you feel. Or what you think. And I can't ever decide anything that way.
My default setting is external cues.
I want all the external circumstances to conspire together. I want everything to fall into place, neatly and cleanly — so that there's really no choice at all. There it is, loud and clear, tangible and unavoidable. Signs even a moron could read. God I love external cues.
The bible is full of external cues:
— angels come and just tell you what's what. I mean, what could be better than that?
— a serpent says, look, this is how it works. Right, well that one didn't work out so well, did it?
— a ram comes and says, 'sacrifice me instead of your son,' right in the nick of time. This one's the synchronicity option.
— burning bush. You know the drill. I mean, gee. Handing down the law that way? No more decisions to make. Ten commandments. Just do this. Nothing more to think about, is there?
— a dove brings an olive branch. This is my personal favorite. One bird, one branch. In the bible, it actually doesn't represent the end of war. No. It meant quite literally that the floods had receded — and there was land again. We could start over and rebuild our homes post-tsunami...
— or just plain, the voice of god. And the 'Go where I send thee...' kind of speech, and you pick up and go. You move! All your stuff. Your flocks, your tents, cats, dogs — everyone and everything. Just like that. Voice of God.
External cues are a lot more fun than yellow legal pads with a line down the middle of the page with yes on the left, and no on the right — and then you sit there and figure it all out. Which can be fun, I guess, but what if you forgot to list a key variable or two? And it's just a lot more work.
So. Personally, I wait for signs.
I wait for the universe to conspire. To speak up. To use its words. At the micro-level this entails things like the parking-space goddess opening up that space when you get there. no parking space — means you're not meant to be there. The only condition under which I ignored this method was in picking up my kids from school. If I had waited for a parking space every time I needed to get my kids — I would have lost each of them on the first day of kindergarten. There are, after all, exceptions to the 'signs' rule.
This is me, waiting for a sign.
Macro-level: Big decisions are worth waiting for big signs. Or at least clear ones. Why would I even think I have the seikhel to figure these out on my own? And therapists? Yes, very Jewish, I know. But it's never been in a therapist's financial interest to have their patients learn how to make decisions (large or small) on their own.
But waiting for signs sucks too, and you end up sitting on shpilkes the whole time. But what can you do? Nothing.
The longest I've waited for a sign is five years.
But when it comes — it is so clear you can touch it, feel it, taste it. There it is — from outside yourself. So it's gotta be true, right. This is, after all, why we like angels so much.
So. I'm waiting for a sign. I don't want it to hit me over the head. Like that 18-wheeler that got me (luckily) when I had the Volvo. That's a bit too macro for my taste. Big signs like that mean you weren't paying attention to the more subtle little signs the universe was flashing at you.
Favorite signs: For me, they come while working in the garden. I don't understand why. Except that gardens are particularly attuned to issues of timing.
Now is the time to prune, the big pine says.
You haven't been watering, you moron, they all scream at once. If you don't nurture, nothing grows.
The garden is pretty blunt about things. But boy, when it's time to prune — you'd better start pruning. And not just the trees.
And some times, of course it's time to plant. And months later you realize you didn't do it. And so, guess what? The only thing that comes up are the 'volunteers.' And sometimes volunteers surprise you and they're pretty spectacular. And sometimes they drop in and wreck everything.
When my garden says prune, I prune. Plant? I plant. It works. But I'm not always in gardening-mode. So I have one more method under my belt.
I call it my 'reasons to desist' mode of divination. It's pretty annoying, but it works well. It has to do with doors. I wait for them to open.
Waiting for the door to open can take a very very very very long time. Recognizing that it's ajar is an artform. Sometimes many conditions (what I like to call variables) have to line up together before that door will budge.
Never kick the door. The door is there to slow you down. Or downright stop you in your tracks. Never ring the doorbell or try to negotiate. I have a friend who does that. It's a real pain. She wants to turn a door into a window of opportunity. She wants to bargain. Negotiate minutia with the door — which makes the door just pissed, and want to slam, even if her foot's on the threshold.
Be very nice to the door. Wait. And be patient. If the door does not open, you don't have to walk through. And there's your reason to desist. If it does open, and you hesitate even a little — it slams shut pretty quick right in your face, pretty insulted that you weren't paying closer attention.
But when that door opens just as you get there. What could be more right than walking on through?